Theatre ambition takes centre stage
ASHFORD’S artistic and cultural life – or, some might argue, lack of it – dominated discussion at the council’s revamped State of the Borough public debate last week. The evening saw more questions asked on arts funding and the development of St Mary’s church than any other subject. So the amount of funding available to arts organisations, plans for a new theatre, plans to remove the pews at St Mary’s church to create an arts and community centre, planned cuts to the council’s arts budget and plans for a railway museum all featured. Councillors were left in no doubt that there is a general desire for things to improve in the town and that, despite what might happen as far as St Mary’s Church is concerned, there is still a feeling that Ashford needs a dedicated theatre. Given that Ashford is said to be the fastest growing town in Kent, then maybe it’s time that more serious consideration be given to enhancing our artistic and cultural assets. Of course the obvious question is who’s going to pay for it. Well, millions of pounds was found for the ring road changes and the creation of shared space, and hundreds of thousands of pounds is being spent improving the railway station. Maybe Ashford’s Future and Ashford Borough Council should now examine the viability of a theatre that many feel is long overdue.